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Shape shifters

photo21
I didn’t take the cruise’s towel origami workshop, but I thought this little guy was cute

I’m not a bikini person.

I’ve never had a flat belly in my life, and after my twins, my norm is a not-flat belly with loose, puckered skin that flops a little over whatever waistband I wear. Even at my thinnest (see: Divorce Diet) I have always felt that my abs are better suited for a one-piece or one of those tankinis with a flap of fabric hung like a little dog door  from a bikini top.

But I just went on my first-ever cruise (the silver lining from that horrible shipwreck in Italy is that prices dropped and everyone is extra careful now) and as I was packing, I threw my bikini in. Ef it, I thought. I can’t believe I will be the only one with a postpartum belly on board, and if I am, then let it be known what we women go through for our children, damn it!

I also threw in a tankini top, fully expecting to have lost my body image bravado when faced with actually exposing my midsection.

But I didn’t! It helped that there were all body sizes and shapes on board, many in bikinis, but I also had a distinct shift in mindset. The last time I tried to wear one, back in my 20s, my attitude was, “I don’t look as good as I should in this bikini.” Looking down at my belly now that I’m almost 45, my first thought was, “I don’t look as bad as I could in this bikini,” which morphed into, “In fact, I look downright fine, and who’s looking anyway?”

Best vacation I’ve ever had. More proof of what I apparently have to learn again and again over the years: That actual looks don’t matter nearly as much as how you feel about how you look. In my experience, changing how you feel about how you look is a lot harder than slapping on some makeup or even doing 700 crunches a day, if you were so inclined. Still, I think the latter is a better investment of emotional energy.

Thoughts?

2 Responses to “Shape shifters”

  1. J says:

    I really think it’s true, the secret to being beautiful is thinking you’re beautiful (without being vain- the key is never holding looks as your MOST IMPORTANT attribute) The more you obsess over what you find ugly, the more people will see THAT when they look at you, whatever you draw attention to shows the most…(Perhaps the only good thing from the “tell them everything about them is amazing no matter what” mentality we were raised with haha)…I “faked it til I made it” hung on for dear life and managed to be genuinely happy in my own skin for large part of my existence =)

  2. LPT says:

    I love how you phrased this: “actual looks don’t matter nearly as much as how you feel about how you look.” I need to post this on my bathroom mirror or something to remind me of it.

    I’m not happy with my current weight, but even when I was at a weight I’d love to see again, I probably thought I’d be better if I lost a few. While I do want to get back to exercising, I need to keep in mind that it’s more for how it makes me feel than how I will look. Sure that dress I pulled out from the back of the closet thinking I’d wear it Easter morning didn’t fit, but by golly, it was more than 10 years old! After that much time, I deserve a new Easter dress that actually fits!

    And in that dress, I need to regain what a dear male friend told me back in college – it was never my looks that made me sexy, it was my confidence in myself. That’s what I need to work on getting back more than my 20-year-old body. Thank you for the reminder!